Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Bernard Wood
Pub date
Nov 2005
Very Short Introductions
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  • The most up-to-date introduction to the subject available, includes Homo floresiensis (nick-named 'the Hobbit')
  • Explains where modern humans fit in the Tree of Life
  • Connects the fossil evidence with the genetic evidence
  • Wood provides an 'insiders view' of paleoanthropology, explaining how fossils are found, analyzed, and why they are interpreted in different ways
  • Includes lively sketches of the characters, past and present, in human evolution research
  • Explains the functions of geochronology and paleoclimatology

This Very Short Introduction traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the latest fossil finds. Although concentrating on the fossil evidence for human evolution, it also covers the latest genetic evidence about regional variations in the modern human genome that relate to our evolutionary history. Bernard Wood draws on over thirty years of experience to provide an insider's view of the field and some of the personalities in it, and demonstrates that our understanding of human evolution is critically dependent on advances in related sciences such as paleoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology.


1: What to expect
2: Finding our place
3: Fossil hominins - discovery and context
4: Fossil hominins - analysis and interpretation
5: Possible and probable early hominins
6: Archaic hominins
7: Transitional and archaic Homo
8: Modern human origins
Further Reading

About the author: 

Bernard Wood has been involved in human evolution-related research for more than thirty years. He was appointed Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Origins at George Washington University and the Smithsonian Institution in 1997. This was the first Professorship to be devoted to the study of Human Origins. Prior to that he was the Derby Professor of Anatomy and the Dean of the School of Medicine at The University of Liverpool. He has published widely about the development of analytical methods and their application to the fossil record. His survey of the fossil hominin cranial remains from the Kenyan site of Koobi Fora published in 1991 is a key reference for researchers.

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